LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Will an animated chameleon be the one to chase away the box-office blues?
"Rango," an Old West cartoon voiced by Johnny Depp, is expected to score the best debut of the year when it rolls out Friday.
Most believe that "Rango" -- reteaming Depp with "Pirates of the Caribbean" director Gore Verbinski -- will gross north of $40 million for the weekend. More sophisticated than most cartoons, the film should draw adults as well as families.
"Rango," which cost $135 million to produce, will open simultaneously in a slew of foreign markets, including the U.K. With a voice cast that also includes Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Timothy Olyphant and Bill Nighy, "Rango" is the first animated film made by George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic.
Universal's sci-fi romantic thriller "The Adjustment Bureau," starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, is likewise tracking well. Box-office observers think it has a good chance of crossing $20 million, although Universal is playing it safe in the current soft environment and predicting an opening in the high- to mid-teens.
Universal acquired "Adjustment Bureau" from producer Media Rights Capital for $65 million and expects the film to be fueled by the same older moviegoers who have turned a number of recent adult-themed films, including "True Grit" and "The King's Speech," into box-office hits. Overseas, "Adjustment Bureau" opens at the weekend in 21 countries.
Speaking of "King's Speech," the drama should enjoy a sales bump after winning four Oscars, including best picture, last weekend.
The two other films opening this weekend -- CBS Films' "Beastly" and Relativity Media's raunchy R-rated comedy "Take Me Home Tonight" -- are expected to post much softer openings.
"Beastly," a retelling of the classic fairy tale "The Beauty and the Beast," was originally intended to open in July, but its release was pushed back twice (in part to piggyback on co-star Alex Pettyfer's "I Am Number Four," which opened two weeks ago).
CBS Films has targeted girls ages 11-17. Its exposure on the picture, which cost $17 million to produce, was minimized by selling off foreign rights.
"Take Me Home Tonight," previously titled "Kids in America," stars Topher Grace and Anna Faris. Relativity inherited the project when it acquired Rogue Pictures from Universal and paid $10 million for distribution rights.